Skipper Alex Wakely says Northants’ pre-season training trip to Barbados is the perfect opportunity for the players to ‘dust off the cobwebs’ after a long winter.
The County players jetted off to the Caribbean on Friday morning, and will spend 11 days training and practising, as well as playing two friendly matches.
The first is a tough one against the North team next Thursday, as the North - including Northants fast bowler Richard Gleeson - prepare for their traditional clash against the South, with the second game against Windward Cricket Club.
As well as the games, the players will go through several days of red ball and white ball practise, but Wakely is delighted there is going to be such a competitive fixture to play as well.
“We’re really lucky this year, we’re playing against the North squad just before they play the South, so we are their warm up game,” said the Northants captain.
“It will be really good; we’re playing at the Kensington Oval so it’s a chance for us to go out against a very competitive side.
“You never know in the West Indies as to what kind of side is going to turn up, but it’s nice to know that you are going to be playing against some good opposition.”
The squad will be based at the Barbados Beach Club and working at the Kensington Oval, and Wakely added: “Barbados is a time to dust off the cobwebs when everyone is getting a bit stale at this time of year.”
“There’re only so many balls you can hit in the indoor school, so many weights you can lift in the gym, so many shuttles you can run.
“So it’s nice to get some sun on your back and to play on some grass wickets.”
Head coach David Ripley is pleased with the itinerary and the fact there are fewer matches than there has been in the past.
“With the season starting in early April now it is really important to get as much grass practice in as possible, and Barbados gives us the chance to get started much earlier than if we stayed in Northampton,” said Ripley.
“There are also less games this year, so it is more of a training camp.
“The games will be important for building the form and the confidence of the players as we continue with games on our return. These games will help shape the starting 11 for the start of the season.”
Head of strength and conditioning Chris Lorkin said the trip to the West Indies is a crucial part of the team’s preparation for the season, that starts in a month’s time with a clash against Middlesex at Lord’s.
“From a fitness point of view, the competitive matches help prepare the lads for the season,” said Lorkin.
“We’ll look to supplement the training with some conditioning work as we have been doing all winter.
“The lads have worked hard so far and we’ll look to continue that over the next couple of weeks.
“For me, Barbados is the final push from a fitness point of view before the season starts so I’m looking forward to working the boys hard out there and continuing the good work they’ve put in so far this winter.”